International
Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

Talks for extended Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire stall in Cairo

Israel demands demilitarized Gaza, and Hamas demands air, seaports as well as lifting of siege and release of prisoners

Israel has demanded the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as a condition to extend a 72-hour cease-fire that took effect on Tuesday, a condition that has stalled negotiations according to Palestinian reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Gaza must be demilitarized and has demanded the disarmament of Hamas and other armed groups. Hamas has flatly refused.

And Hamas’ counter-demand for the establishment of sea and airports has been met with silence from the Israeli side, according to Haaretz, an Israeli news website. 

Israel has reportedly expressed willingness to consider Hamas' other conditions, including the lifting of the seven-year blockade on the occupied territory, the opening of border crossings, extending Gaza’s fishing area and the release of prisoners.

Since the beginning of the truce, which is set to expire at 8 a.m. local time Friday, rocket fire and shelling between Israel and Hamas has stopped. Many of the nearly half a million displaced Gazans returned to their neighborhoods to inspect damage to their homes, and Israelis living in towns near Gaza were able to move about more freely without restrictions on outdoor activities and rocket warning sirens sounding.

Israel-Gaza flashpoint
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Representatives from the Israeli and Palestinian sides have been negotiating indirectly in Cairo in an attempt to end the fighting that began on July 8 and has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Three Israeli civilians and 61 soldiers have been killed.

“Indirect talks are ongoing, and we still have today to secure this,” an Egyptian official said when asked whether the truce was likely to go beyond Friday.

“Egypt’s aims are to stabilize and extend the truce with the agreement of both sides and begin negotiations towards a permanent agreement to cease fire and ease border restrictions.”

After a month of attacks, the two sides have not met face to face.

Both sides have said they are willing to extend the truce if their conditions are met, Palestinian news website Maan News reported. At the same time, both have said they will resume fighting unless the other side agrees to their demands.

A senior Hamas commander said that “unless the conditions of the resistance are met, the negotiating team will withdraw from Cairo and then it will be up to the resistance in the field,” Haaretz reported.

Israel’s military will “resume operations” if Hamas renews hostilities, Israel’s Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel Radio on Thursday. 

With wire services

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